What Makes It Different . . . ?

Man stranded on a rock in ocean He’s got my attention!


Timothy Keller, “The Man the King Delights To Honor”


Esther is a Jewish woman who becomes queen of Persia, and as we have seen and will continue to see, she uses her position to save her people by working for justice in society. She is the protagonist of this story, but today we are going to look at the antagonist, the villain: a man named Haman.

Haman is the most vivid and sustained case study in the Bible of everything the Bible says about pride and humility and what happens to people who let pride rage unchecked. Therefore, it is very vivid; it illustrates so many other places where the Bible speaks about pride and humility. We’re going to learn a lot, but I don’t want you to think this is hype when I say I really want you to listen, because it might save the rest of your life. I’m not kidding.*

Tim Keller is saying that this passage is unique, set apart, different from all other places in the Scripture in that it describes a man in his pride like no other passage.

AND that the passage has the potential of changing and saving your life down the road!

He uses these phrases . . . .

  • the most vivid case
  • the most sustained case
  • of everything the Bible says about
  • and what happens to people
  • illustrates (pride as found elsewhere in the Bible)
  • learn a lot
  • saved the rest of your life
  • not hype & not kidding


Now, there are some cautions which go with such an introduction.

  1. Tim Keller has “set the table” in his introduction in such a way that he has your attention.  He now has to deliver on what he has promised.  With a person like Haman (or the Pharaoh, or King Saul) his “promised introductory description” of the value, benefit, and uniqueness of looking at Haman fits.
  2. You cannot use this kind of introduction over and over (at least with the same audience) because over time the audience will hear such a description and say, “Yep, here we go again — there is no passage or person like this passage or person who . . . . .”  — Be careful in using this “rhetorical introductory technique.”  You don’t want to go to “this well” too often.
  3. You fail to point to the fact that it was not “hype.”  Don’t forget to pull-down some of those “promised introductory descriptive words” into the actual message.
  • “As I said, it is a sustained example of pride and hatred, for it goes on from chapter __ to chapter __, and doesn’t end until Haman is actually hung!”

AND even build on those introductory words . . . .

  • You see what is what pride does — it just doesn’t let go — it moves with you day after day — week after week — It is self-sustaining.  Pride will not just vanish on its own, but hangs on until it kills you.”


Regardless of the cautions, Tim Keller illustrates how important introductions are in engaging the audience from the very beginning.  If you lose them in the beginning, you may well have to work twice as hard to get them back.

Regardful of the cautions, there is value in thinking about the nature of the passage, book, Bible character, or verse in such a way that you might help the audience (and yourself) set it apart from other possible passages which address the same general topic.

  • What makes this passage or character unique, different from the many others?
  • Why would you go to this passage or chapter when speaking on ______?
  • Is there anyone else who better exemplifies ______?  Whether – Yes or No – what does this passage / character contribute?
  • Why is this passage in the Scriptures, since there are many other passages which also address the topic / subject of _______?


Think about the passage, portion of Scripture, or selected Bible character this way:

  • What differentiates this passage or person from the many others passages which generally address the same topic or subject matter?
  • What does the account of Haman have to offer that a study of Saul or the Pharaoh does not offer?
  • What question would someone have to ask me which would push me to refer to this passage or character account, rather than any another?
  • Did the Lord just include “another example / passage / person” dealing with the same general subject for the purpose of emphasis, or is there a reason that this passage/account/character is also included?
  • What is there about this (Haman) which is different than that (Saul) when it comes to understanding pride or hatred?


In regards to “introductory descriptions,” here are some other sentences, phrases, or words which may help generate some thoughts about your passage.

  • one of the most vivid / the most vivid / a vivid
  • a sustained example
  • a searching picture of
  • a prolonged picture of
  • it illustrates
  • nothing is clearer / more clear
  • filled with lessons
  • is an example of the extreme – where it can potentially end
  • It includes the remedy for _____.
  • It might / could change your whole thinking about _____.
  • Get this down, and you are half way there in handling _____.
  • It is the first place you might go to illustrate what _____  looks like
  • It is probably the last place you would expect to see it, but it is there as well.
  • If you had to pick a passage on ____, you would probably not think of this passage.
  • a practical
  • a graphic
  • an improbable
  • It’s juxtaposition between _____ & _______.
  • a lasting picture
  • It pictures two mismatched individuals who ______.
  • a remarkable contrast in ____
  • precautionary account of what happens when ______
  • This is a confirmation that/in that/of
  • This verse /two verses contain it all  — when it comes to . . .
  • This verse sums it up in 25 words – like no other verse sums it up or puts it together – (John 3:16)
  • It shows it in “bold relief” — you can’t miss it here!
  • Most Bible readers know very little about _______ and therefore also know too little about this cause/remedy.
  • This passage is an example that every child is familiar with since Sunday School, and maybe the lessons it has to offer are lost in our adult life.
  • most often quoted
  • a verse / answer I wish Jesus had not spoken / given
  • it is the only place it is found — in this book / passage / right here


* After this introduction, Keller then goes on to lay out the three main points of his message . . . .

“There are three things we learn here: the character of pride, then the deadliness of pride, and then the cure for pride.” — Timothy Keller


One thought on “What Makes It Different . . . ?

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